Before the prayer begins, a Muslim is required to perform ablution (wudu in Arabic), which is the act of cleaning and purifying oneself from physical bodily fluids such as blood, urine, or any impurity with water. A Muslim must be clean and free of impurities in his body, clothing, and the area where the Prayer will be performed. One drop of waste matter presents anywhere would void one’s Prayer.
Wudu was the first ritual legislated in Islam, legislated right after the second Revelation. Wudu is half of our faith. The passing of urine, stool, windbreaks, eating camel meat, losing consciousness, and falling asleep while lying down on one’s Wudu. Ghusl, a full body bath is required after sexual intercourse or when sperm is discharged. If one does not break his wudu and the following prayer comes in, they can pray with the same Wudu Ablution performed prior. Our Prophet Muhammad PBUH stated that were it not difficult for my nation, I would have commanded my nation to perform Wudu Ablution every time they stood up to pray. This is to show us the importance of and encourage us to perform a lot of Wudu in our lives. On Judgement Day, those who performed a perfect wudu will be identifiable by the light shining from the areas they washed in wudu. Every time we make Wudu, sins fall with the drops of water from our skin, so the repetition of Wudu cleanses our sins, and we should get into the habit of performing ablution regularly.
O believers! When you rise up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, wipe your heads, and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of ˹full˺ impurity, then take a full bath. But if you are ill, on a journey, or have relieved yourselves, or have been intimate with your wives and cannot find water, then purify yourselves with clean Earth by wiping your faces and hands. It is not Allah’s Will to burden you, but to purify you and complete His favour upon you, so perhaps you will be grateful. (Quran 5:6)
Before we learn how to pray, we must learn how to perform Wudu (Ablution). Here are step-by-step instructions:
Step one is the same for all good acts we do for Allah. You intend in your heart that you are performing this good deed for Allah alone, and then you say Bismillah, which means “In the name of Allah.” You start everything in the name of Allah!
You turn your faucet in a manner where it doesn’t waste a lot of water. You start by washing your hands up to your wrists three times. You start with your right hand and then your left three times. It’s Sunnah to wash between your fingers.
Then you wash your mouth and nose with one hand full of water three times. You use your right hand to insert water into your nose and your left hand to remove the water from your nose.
Then you wash your face from your hairline to your chin and from one ear to the other without washing your ear yet. If someone has a beard, they can run their wet fingers between their beards. This is done three times.
Then wash your arms from the beginning of your hand into your elbow, starting with your right arm and then your left, three times. You roll the water down from your hands into your elbows and then rub. Then you do the same for your left arm three times. Let the water flow down your hands as sins will fall with the water.
After that comes the wiping of your head with your wet hands from the top of your hairline to the bottom of your hairline, back and forth only once.
Then wash your ears by inserting your damp index finger into your ears, cleaning the inside and outside of your ears once.
Then comes the washing of your feet, starting with your right foot from your toes to your ankles three times. Remember to wash between your toes and the bottom of your heels too. Then wash your left foot three times.
When complete, it’s a sunnah to say:
أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
‘I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, alone, who has no partner,
and I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.’
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